- Demands scrapping of Housing Fund
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) has asked the federal government to do something about the excessive and multiple taxation being imposed on its members.
It said government should consider the cessation of the national housing fund which it said has lost its usefulness.
The union also bemoaned what it described as the excessive and multiple taxation being imposed on its members, saying that it has become unbearable.
In the statement issued on Sunday by the General Secretary of NASU, Prince Peters Adeyemi, the union lamented the situation where workers especially those in the low income bracket are subjected to all manner of taxes.
“In Nigeria, only workers pay taxes, big businesses get tax exemptions and tax holidays. No matter who governments actually bill for tax, workers end up actually footing the bill for each and every other tax levied in this country.
“When a business must pay tax, it cannot pay it out of profits. It raises the prices of the products it sells and for manufacturing companies, they will be tempted to reduce the quality of the product all in order to reduce the effect of the tax on the profit of the company (shareholders money).
“In either case, the worker ends up paying the company tax. The first is that the worker pays the cost of the tax when he pays for the product at a higher price, the tax having been factored into the price of the good.
“In the second instance, the worker again pays the cost of the tax when he has to replace the product more frequently, because of the inferior nature as it either breaks down or wears out frequently,” it said.
NASU further said that majority of the workers are subjected to another taxation in form of property tax.
“Workers who have entered into tenancy agreements, written or unwritten and are not able to meet this obligations are evicted from the houses and made homeless,” it said.
NASU lamented that it is only workers in low income brackets that pay the recently introduced communications tax, adding that wealthy business men, their top echelon employees, their class collaborators in the political class as well as public service bureaucrats do not pay communications tax.
According to the union, these privileged few have their calls paid for by the big businesses and governments.
“When it is all added up, it is only NASU members and other workers as well as the downtrodden masses of this country that pay taxes. These burden of excessive and multiple taxation has impoverished the average worker in Nigeria. The salaries and wages paid to them can no longer be regarded as living wage as they have become slave wages, forcing our members to live below internationally declared poverty line.
“The whole issue is compounded by the absence of any social security safety net in the country and the fact that they are not counted among the 10,695,360 individual households the federal government declared as poor households in Nigeria as at 29th February 2020, which disqualified them from the conditional cash transfers of the federal government. The reason is that our poverty ridden members are erroneously termed to be gainfully employed,” it said.
The union said the National Housing Fund (NHF) has become “an unprogressive tax that is unprofitable to the contributors and the nation and therefore has to be stopped”.
Under the extant NHF Law (NHF 1992), every Nigerian earning N3,000 or more per annum is required to contribute 2.5 per cent of their monthly basic salary to the NHF.
The funds mobilised are then made available to contributors at affordable interest rates to build their home.
The Fund, which is mandatory for all federal public servants, commenced in 1992 with the money deducted from source based on basic salaries.
However, with the consolidation of salaries, the deductions are now based on consolidated salaries.
The union said that it viewed the NHF as another form of tax imposed by the federal government on her employees.
“The excessive and multiple taxation being imposed by the federal government is a
burden that is too heavy for our members to bear. These excessive and multiple taxes are being imposed by the federal and state governments without being sensitive to the plight of workers.
“These taxes include income tax, value added tax, bank charges tax, communications tax as well as the National Housing Fund. On several occasions, we have had cause to talk to the government about the negative effect of these taxes and their excessive nature on our members’ welfare,” it said.
NASU said it is unfortunate that not up to 10 per cent of federal public servants have been able to access the Housing Fund since its inception.
“This situation has caused NASU members to rename the Fund as ‘National Housing Fraud’,” it said.